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Lead Qualification – make your pipeline work harder

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The challenge faced by sales and marketing teams

Marketing teams work hard to produce a healthy pipeline of leads for sales teams to nurture. They commission lead gen services from a range of agencies who are able to generate simple opt-ins through to MQLs, with a typical cost of €50-60. However, with thousands of leads coming through monthly and very short timeframes to push these through the pipeline, sales teams can only touch a very small percentage of the pool.

We’ve heard from clients that just 1.5% of this pipeline eventually closes. This means that a marketing spend worth potentially millions of euro is going to waste, simply because the sales teams don’t have the resources to follow up on everything that is delivered.

For a marketing team requesting 20,000 MQLs globally, this would be a total marketing spend of more than €1 million. If we take the 1.5% figure from above, this would equal just 300 converted leads. On that basis, the cost per conversion would be more than €3000, without taking the additional nurture cost of the work done by the sales team into account.  

But why is this happening? Due to time pressure, sales reps likely reach for the best qualified leads with reliable contact information, leaving the rest of the pipeline to one side.

This is completely understandable – our lead qualification team have found that just 15-30% of contacts could be reached on the first attempt and in fact 40-50% took 5+ attempts. Even worse, around 10% of the pipeline turns out to have incorrect phone numbers so cannot be reached at all. Busy sales teams under pressure to meet targets simply don’t have the time or resources to work these contacts.

However, this doesn’t mean that 98.5% of the pipeline is invalid. Lead gen partners have identified a universe that can be activated – the challenge is how to do this.

Our Lead Qualification Process

BNZSA’s lead qualification program picks up all leads that were rejected by sales in the first screening – our clients tell us that this can be up to 98.5% of the pipeline.

Our Virtual Teams of highly trained BDRs have one single objective: to drive the leads to the next stage of the funnel up until they are ready for sales.

They will work to engage every single contact and organise them into categories based on their contactability and level of engagement. Where contact information is unreliable or out of date, our data team will work to enrich the database and then the agents will follow up and validate the information. Where they are missing information, they will conduct their own desk research to understand how to navigate the target companies and which contacts should be engaged.

Then the BDRs will explore the topics with the prospects in further detail in order to push them along the funnel. If appropriate, we will introduce them into our email nurture tracks to keep them activated with custom content until they are ready for further engagement. Our lead scoring mechanism means we can accelerate leads for follow up if the intent signals are strong.

If the lead is not ready, our BDRs will at least capture market insights like number of users, buying cycles, key decision makers etc.

This means that we’re able to provide more detailed insights into the pipeline that enable your team to prioritise and focus on closing the warmest leads whilst ensuring that they’ll have more coming through for the following quarters. 

The results

Typically, we are able to move around 15% of those reached on the phone along the funnel, warming them up for the next phase of engagement by the client’s sales team. This is a huge improvement on the 1.5% that are sifted through by sales, and already increases the pipeline dramatically.

Furthermore, we can add additional insight to around 60% of the contacts which means that digital teams can appropriately stream them into marketing automation tracks to receive the required nurture.

We’re also able to enrich the 5-10% of the database that sales teams flagged as uncontactable with email addresses, phone numbers or updated employment information so they can be used for future activity.

BNZSA’s Lead Qualification Engine – A Case Study

We recently conducted an EMEA wide lead qualification for a client in 7 languages. Our client was receiving up to 10,000 leads per month through content syndication. We were invited to conduct some initial qualification and found the following:

  • 5.5% of the leads were sales ready from the beginning
  • 33.5% of leads were uncontactable
  • 10% of leads were considered out of scope (not within target)
  • 51% were contactable but found to be not sales ready – of these 20% were moved to sales ready with nurture from BNZSA

We were able to help the client secure better value for money from their content syndication programme in the following ways:

  • By nurturing an additional 10% of the pipeline to sales ready
  • By providing actionable insights into the whole pipeline e.g. identifying which contacts required enrichment, adding data on installed base and buying cycles etc
  • By identifying bad/out of target leads that could be replaced by the provider
  • By creating a benchmark that could be used to monitor future programmes

Conclusion

In conclusion, BNZSA’s lead qualification engine results in better quality MQLs and SQLs which are more likely to engage and enter the sales funnel.

By discounting leads that are not immediately identifiable as a tangible opportunity, sales teams are losing a large part of their potential pipeline. Not every lead generated is immediately going to be a Sales Qualified Lead, but that doesn’t mean that they should be discounted as a revenue-generating opportunity for the future.

Not only is this a waste of potential in itself, but it also compounds since marketing often ends up paying multiple times for the same leads to be generated at a later date since they still sit within the relevant campaign targeting.

Our approach keeps leads in the system to activate them when they do have a concrete project and budget in place. Gradually warming and engaging leads to push them through the sales funnel will help you keep the pipeline active and help you close more deals.